Perfect Your Pedicure

Here's what busy moms need to know about pampering themselves with the best pedicures.

Preserve Your Pedicure

There's nothing worse than spending precious time polishing your toenails only to have the results smudged by your shoes. The best way to prolong the life of your pedicure is to be patient. Allow polish to dry thoroughly (about 30 minutes) before putting on socks or closed shoes -- for instance, slip on flip-flops and carry on with your day while your toes dry.

If you go to the beach, protect nails from abrasive sand with a chip-resistant topcoat like Barielle Manicure Extender. Chlorinated pools can also wear away even the toughest polishes. Reapply the clear topcoat every few days.

Fancy Footwork

Be perfectly pedicured with step-by-step advice from Sunny Lee, director of Dashing Diva Nail Salon (dashingdiva.com):

1. Wipe off old polish with a non-acetone polish remover. Then clip and file nails to the desired length and shape. Do it right before a shower and you can skip soaking feet in a basin of water, which is messy and time-consuming.

2. In the shower, apply an exfoliant to calluses, rub with a pumice stone or foot file, and rinse well.

3. Dry feet, apply cuticle oil, and massage into skin. Gently push back cuticles with an orangewood stick (available at most drugstores). Use cuticle snippers only for hangnails, since aggressive trimming can cause them to grow back faster.

4. Massage lotion into each foot.

5. Paint toes with a base coat, two coats of color, and a clear topcoat.

Spa Products -- at Home!

Re-create the luxury of a spa pedicure at home with these indulgent products:

  • Pedicure by OPI Foot Scrub (salons).
  • Kneipp Herbal Foot Soak (Nordstrom).
  • Dr. Scholl's Pedicure Essentials Dual-Action Swedish File (drugstores).
  • Barielle Intensive Foot Cream (sephora.com).
  • Jonel Toe Works pedicure kit with a nail brush, foot buffer, cuticle pusher, two files, and toe separators (drugstores).

At-Home Paraffin Footbath

Is it worth buying for myself, or will it just be a mess?

Paraffin wax treatments are a great way to soften and exfoliate rough, chapped skin, especially on your hands and feet. Many salons offer these treatments at a premium, but you can duplicate the effects at home with a paraffin footbath (most cost between $25 and $50).

However, giving yourself a paraffin treatment requires quite a bit of planning and cleanup, which can be next to impossible when you're taking care of a kid. First you need to heat the wax (and keep your little one away from the scalding appliance). Then you dip your hands and feet into the melted wax, cover them with plastic bags, and sit for 15 to 20 minutes.

Once the wax is dry, it's easy to remove, but the heating unit must cool thoroughly before it can be put away. Bottom line: Regular paraffin wax treatments are not a beauty essential, so reward yourself occasionally at a salon and let the pros do the dirty work.

Sole Survivors

The best part of beautifying your feet is showing them off in strappy sandals, but every summer ugly, painful blisters seem to rain on our open-toed parade. Heat and humidity (not to mention pregnancy) cause feet to swell, making even the most comfortable shoes feel like torture devices.

Since passing on gorgeous shoes is not an option, here's what we suggest: Slip a package of Band-Aid Liquid Bandages (drugstores) in your purse or diaper bag. If your shoes start rubbing you the wrong way, you'll be ready to strike before a blister does. We favor liquid bandages (which you swab on with special applicators) because they're invisible and don't peel away from hard-to-cover areas like toes and heels.

If you still end up with a painful blister, clean the area with warm water, apply an antibacterial ointment like Neosporin, and cover with a regular or liquid bandage.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, July 2004.

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